The Doctrine of God-Communicable Attributes of Purpose

Posted: October 1, 2008 in Uncategorized

Let’s make a quick run through God’s communicable attributes of purpose.

1) Will: “God’s will is that attribute of God whereby he approves and determines to bring about every action necessary for the existence and activity of himself and all creation.” As Dr. Grudem explains, “Scripture frequently indicates God’s will as the final or ultimate reason for everything that happens” (see. Eph. 1:11).  This throws a lot people for a curve and it is tricky.

Let’s look at some distinctions.  First, there is God’s necessary will and free will.  The former is “that he must will according to his own nature.”  Confused? Let’s look at an example, God cannot cease to exist.  He is eternal.  It is just who he is.  Thus, this is part of God’s necessary will.  However, God can (and did) choose to make everything that exists including you and me.  He didn’t have to do it.  He freely chose to do it.  This is an example of the latter.

Another distinction is between God’s secret will and His revealed will.  Deuteronomy 29:29 states, “the secret things belong to the Lord.”  There are some things God wills but simply does not reveal to us.  For example, read the end of the Book of Job.  Why did God allow Job to suffer so? He doesn’t really say! Yet, He has been gracious enough to reveal His will time and time again in Scripture so that we may follow it.  Jesus commanded us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).  He only expects us to carry out His will as it has been revealed in His Word.

All of this raises the question of whether God wills evil.  Scripture is clear that God certainly takes no pleasure in evil (Ezek. 33:11) but it also asserts that Jesus’ death was the will of God but was also “the hour of darkness.”  This is all headache material to be sure but we will return to it later in order to deal with it in depth.

2) Freedom: “God’s freedom is that attribute of God whereby he does whatever he pleases.” See Psalm 115:3 cf. Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 4:5, etc.

3) Omnipotence (power, sovereignty): “God’s omnipotence means that God is able to do all his holy will.”  As Dr. Grudem explains, “Whereas God’s freedom referred to the fact that there are no external constraints on God’s decisions, God’s omnipotence has reference to his own power to do what he decides to do.” See Gen. 18:14 and Jer. 32:17, 27, etc.

Now, as stated earlier, it is true that “God cannot will or do anything that would deny his own character.” For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). So it is not accurate to say God can do anything but he can do anything worth doing.

Tomorrow we will quickly hit God’s summary attributes before moving on to the trinity.

  1. Sandra R says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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